Yes, I do realize that posting dreams is against all reasonable rules, but I just can't resist this one. I had a migraine, or a fever, and went to bed early in the evening. Then I fell into a storybook. Into Wonderland.
I'll put most of it under the cut. Ready? OK, now sit back and relax, here we go:
A girl/young woman lives alone in a hut by the sea. She doesn't know why she's there, but she doesn't think much about that. She spends her time exploring, watching the animals and birds and the sea. No matter where she falls asleep -- on the seashore, in the forest, even high in a tree (more about that later) she wakes up the next morning on her cot, with fresh milk, bread, and gruel at the door of her hut.
One day she is walking in the forest, when she sees a bear cub eating berries from a bush. At first, she is enchanted; but then she realizes that the mother bear must be somewhere near, that she might be between them, and in danger. She drops to her knees, puts her head down, and tries to be as small and still as possible. She hears the mama bear coming toward her from behind, and the baby bear, from in front.
Even though she knows they can't really harm her -- that even if they kill her, she will wake in her cot as usual the next morning -- she observes with some interest that she is still intensely frightened. The bears nose her, and she smells their terrifying greasy scent, and her own fear. But they finish nosing her, and go their way.
One morning, when she goes to her door to get her food, a water-squirrel is waiting there.
Spontaneously, she says Good Morning! and asks: Who are you?
The water-squirrel (an otter?) answers: I am the one who will be sharing your meal.
Somewhat -- but not terribly -- surprised to hear it speak, she picks up the food and invites the water-squirrel inside. She puts the gruel into her only bowl and places it in front of the water-squirrel, who says: Do you expect me to eat this with my hands?
She apologizes, and begins to explain that she has only one bowl and one spoon, when she notices that a second bowl and spoon have appeared in their place on the shelf. Also, the amount of food has doubled. So she gives the water-squirrel a spoon, and he uses it quite dexterously, as they sit and visit and share this breakfast.
Sadly, I can't remember any more of their long conversation.
Another morning, a snake is waiting at the door, and she invites it in, and offers it some of her food. The snake rises up to smell the gruel -- it smells as a cat does, with its mouth open, tongue flattened, nostrils extended.
The snake says: Are you sure you want to eat that? Not to be rude or anything, but it's . . . it's dead.
Later, he tells her that it's tough to adjust to other people's strange customs (like eating dead food.)
He teaches her to climb trees. At first she is frightened -- she's never thought of doing this before, and, as she points out, the snake has certain advantages in this situation -- but he encourages her, shows her where to put her feet, where to hold to a branch, and soon she is perched high in the tree, admiring the view. She can even see a bit of land on the far horizon of the water. It's so beautiful that she stays there all day, and falls asleep after watching the sun drop into the sea; then wakes as usual in her hut the next morning.
Another day, she meets a giraffe couple in the woods. They are very very tall, very very large, very very British, and a bit snooty ("noses in the air.") She invites them to lunch; they decline, but offer to share theirs with her. A very very large head descends from above, with a mouth full of greens that turn out to be quite tasty, and a nice break from her usual diet of bread, milk, and gruel.
She tells them she knows that their name means 'camel leopard', and that now she understands why. They are tourists, and she asks how they got here.
The usual way, they say.
How will you get back? she asks.
The usual way, they say.
Can I go with you? she asks, having never thought of leaving before, but it might be nice to travel.
They don't directly refuse, but somehow indicate that she is not able to travel in the usual way.
One day a raven comes to lunch. It refuses the spoon, which it cannot manipulate, but it needs a shallow bowl to drink from, and one appears.
Beach combing. She is collecting seashells, and, by accident, picks up one that is inhabited.
PUT ME DOWN!
Quickly, apologizing profusely, she returns it to the sand. Then, because she's a bit lonely and would like some conversation, she tries to coax it out, but it remains stubbornly silent. Finally, she taps gently on the shell.
And so, reluctantly, politely, she does.
She stands at the water's edge, feeling very powerful. She can almost see the power, like a mist over the water. She extends her arms, then brings them in, gathering the power to her -- then tosses it, like a net, back over the sea.
She begins to pull the net back in, hand over hand --
-- and now she's a he.
He has caught some of the sea and landscape in the net, like clipping a bit from a photograph; when it comes to shore it's just as small as it was in the distance. He gathers the net together, and sees a tiny man jumping up and down and shouting (unhearably) on the piece of land -- he laughs, and picks up the net, tosses it over his shoulder and begins to walk -- to strut, actually -- along the beach. He is feeling very smug, proud, arrogant --
-- but then he sees, passing over his head, a huge net; and he and his landscape are dragged in, and, as he jumps up and down, protesting, a giant laughs at him --
-- and he is enraged, and then slowly realizes that, to save himself, he must put the landscape he caught back where it belongs. He casts it back into the sea, and it passes through the ropes of the giant netting and back to the horizon -- or rather, the ropes of the net pass right through the landscape --
-- but he is still caught in the gianter giant's net. He despairs, he falls asleep on the shore, and when he wakes, all is back in place, as it should be.
She finds a boy on the shore, asleep. (The same boy? A different boy?)
Time passes, and they have adventures together, explore and play. Their huts are next to each other, on the seashore.
One day they discover that they can make sling shots with seaweed and pebbles. They make a target in the sand, and take turns trying to hit it. She is better at this than he is, and she teases and taunts him, flirting.
It's his turn, and as he swings his slingshot around, preparing to release it, he catches a bit of movement -- a wing -- in the sky. Without thought, without intent, he shoots at that movement, and a seagull falls from the sky to the beach.
She cries out: Look what you've done! Look what you've done!
She is grieving, crying, cradling the bird in her arms.
He says: I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to do it.
She tries and tries to revive the bird. She bathes it in the sea, in her tears.
She is overcome with grief; he is overcome with shame; finally they fall asleep, exhausted, leaning against a boulder; the dead bird on the sand between them.
When they wake the next morning, they are still there, wet and cold. There are no huts. There is no milk or bread or gruel. On the sand between them lies the corpse of the seagull, ants crawling from the sockets that were its eyes.
GROWNUP VOICE: And that, children, is how the world began.
[sound of a large book closing]
CHILD VOICE: But what happens next?
GROWNUP VOICE: What do you think happens next?